Self concept and identity

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The self concept and identity

How do you see yourself?
Do you see yourself as someone who is capable of doing anything that he wants?
Do you see yourself as an unlucky person?
Do you see yourself as a victim?

The picture you have formed of yourself in your mind is called your self concept. The psychological identity on the other hand is your capacity for self-reflection and awareness.

People usually acquire their identities through the tasks they do and the objects they identify themselves with. For example, if you asked someone “who are you?” and he replied saying “I am the restaurant’s chef“, then this person identifies himself with his job and thinks of himself as the chef instead of Robin or Tom.

Self concept upgrades & downgrades

If a person’s self concept changed then his behavior will eventually change to reflect this change in his self concept. For example, if someone started to believe that he is a confident person then his behavior will automatically change in such a way that he becomes confident. This happened because the person’s self concept was upgraded.

Now what if you were able to change someone’s self concept? Won’t you be able to affect his behavior? If you managed to find a way to change someone’s self concept you will succeed in letting that person change his behavior.

changing the self concept using repetition

A mother who always keeps calling her child names such as "fool" or "dumb" actually changes the child's self concept and helps him believe that he is one of these words.

If you kept calling someone with a certain word that describes some kind of a behavior then within a short period of time this word may be included in that person's own self concept!! ( see Raising emotionally healthy children)

you can even help someone to change to the better by upgrading his self concept instead of constantly blaming him. people who always keep trying to motivate their friends by telling them that they are doing wrong things or that they are losers are making the problem worse.

you can convince someone to break a certain habit by helping him upgrade his self concept instead of putting him down. if you want to change the unwanted behavior of someone just convince him that he is too good to do such a bad thing.

people usually fail to change others because they do the exact opposite, they keep telling others how bad they are and so they further solidify their current self concepts.

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